Biomethylation of 2,4,6-trichlorophenol to the potent off-flavour compound 2,4,6-trichloroanisole has previously been found to cause taste and odour problems in drinking water. In the present study, both compounds were detected in seemingly unpolluted surface waters. However, the highest concentrations of 2,4,6-trichloroanisole in tap water were caused by the formation of 2,4,6-trichlorophenol during chlorine disinfection of drinking water and subsequent methylation of this compound in the distribution system. Analysis of samples from several sites in the investigated distribution systems showed that there was a substantial spatial and temporal variation of the concentration of both 2,4,6-trichloroanisole and its precursor.